ASAN Praises Introduction of 2023 Keeping All Students Safe Act

a wax stamp being placed on a parchment that says "declaration of human rights"

ASAN strongly supports and thanks Congress for the introduction of the 2023 Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA). KASSA would ban almost all kinds of restraint and all kinds of seclusion across all 50 states, and would require school districts to collect data to prevent further use of these dangerous practices. This bill mimics ones that have been introduced many times, but nothing has yet to be passed. It is past time to make this the law of the land and ASAN urges Congress to do so without delay.

Restraint and seclusion can be life-threatening and are often incredibly traumatic. They are disproportionately used on students with disabilities and students of color. Restraint and seclusion are part of the systematic marginalization and removal of children of color, children with disabilities, and especially children of color with disabilities from school. This is also called the ‘school-to-prison pipeline.’

KASSA bans chemical and mechanical restraints in schools, as well as all physical restraints that restrict a person’s ability to breathe or threaten the person’s life (including prone and supine restraint). It does not ban a student’s use of prescribed medications or things like braces. The bill also bans all kinds of seclusion. Schools can only use physical restraint in a situation in which the student is imminently going to seriously physically injure themselves or others without its use, and no less restrictive alternatives would work. It does not allow schools to put physical restraint in a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and it requires the school to report every instance of physical restraint of a student to the student’s parents and hold a meeting to talk about what happened. States will be required to collect data on their schools’ use of physical restraint, and to collect information on the race and disability of students who experience physical restraint in schools. This data will help advocates and the federal government hold schools accountable.

We know there is a lot of work to do if we want to keep students with disabilities safe and end the school to prison pipeline. We thank Congress for taking the first steps towards ending the violent, traumatic victimization of students with disabilities in our nation’s public schools. We call upon Congress to work swiftly to pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act and to ensure that all students – including students with disabilities – can learn and to be free of abuse in school.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!